Friday, August 30, 2013

Singapore ~ Balestier Road (Traditional Shophouses)

Balestier Road is a heritage trail of Singapore.

Traditional Shophouses ~ 412-418 Balestier Road
This is surviving row of traditional shop houses at the junction of Balestier Road and Jalan Kemaman was developed in 1928 and restored in 2000. They were built by Madam Sim Cheng Neo, who also owned traditional shop houses at 292-312 Balestier Road.
These shop houses are designed by architect Kwan Yow Luen in a style that marries East and West, the shop houses feature walls with molded designs that recall the reliefs of classical architecture. The images, however, are Chinese dragons and bats. In a local twist to the Chinese tradition of placing guardian warriors by the entrance to one's dwelling, the pillars of the corner unit feature Sikh men, who were often employed as guards and policemen during colonial times.

These shop houses appeared in P. Ramlee's film "Penarek Becha", which Amran, a honest but poor trishaw man rescues Azizah, a rich man's daughter, from bullies. These shop houses were gazetted as conserved buildings on 1 December 2003.

Nearby, a small cart stands at the corner of Boon Teck Road, offering water and tea to any thirsty passer-by at no charge. This service is a legacy of past times when clean drinking water was a luxury.

The provision of water was an act of charity for poor laborers such as drivers of horse carriages or bullock carts, rickshaw pullers and other workers toiling in the area. This service continues to be provided by Thong Teck Sian Tong Lian Sin Sia, a temple and charitable organization located at Boon teck Road. The kiosk holds two containers: one with plain water and the other with a tea called Su Teh in Teochew dialect, which is said to relieve the effects of heat.

In the past, there were two other water kiosks providing free water and tea to the public. These were along River Valley Road, by the present Liang Court mall, and near the old Hoover Theatre along Balestier Road. Temple caretakers would ride in trishaws to fill up the kiosks every morning.

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